UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A five-student team recently was named winner of the 2012 Ag Springboard Competition conducted by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
For winning the business-pitch contest, which promotes agricultural entrepreneurship and new venture ideas in the field, Team Green Towers won the $5,000 first-place award. The team is developing a technology for hydroponics greenhouses for spatially constrained environments using discarded shipping containers.
Team members will use competition funds to build a full-scale prototype of their idea in the next year.
Team members include Dustin Betz, of Camp Hill, a junior Plant Biology major with minors in Horticulture and Entrepreneurship; Jon Gumble, of Honesdale, a senior Landscape Contracting major; Mike Zaengle, of Pennsburg, a junior Architecture major; Mike Ghen, of Chalfont, a junior Computer Engineering major; and Ken Palamara, of Bethel Park, a junior Energy Engineering major.
The second-place team, which won $1,000, is working on developing a scalable means for a natural, insect-based poultry feed.
This team is comprised of Fengchun Yang, a junior Agricultural Science major from Guangdong, China, who is president of the Penn State Chinese Students and Scholars Association; and Mengjia Ren, of Changzhou, China, a junior Economics, Energy Business Finance and Math major.
More than 100 students from a number of Penn State colleges formed 35 teams and entered the contest.
Twenty-four of those teams developed competitive venture plans, noted Mark Gagnon, the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship scholar and Ag Springboard Competition coordinator.
"An exciting outcome of the competition is that two teams have actually commercialized their ideas, and approximately 10 teams continue to develop their ideas," he said. "Seeing the students act upon their ideas is a positive outcome of entrepreneurship in Agricultural Sciences at Penn State."
The Ag Springboard Competition is open to all Penn State students. It is sponsored by the Earl and Kay Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Endowment in the College of Agricultural Sciences.